Discussions with market and financial sources on fashion and retail trends last year raised some interesting ideas on what is percolating in the marketplace. The following are a few that were mentioned that could show some strong legs in 2013, with the impact of having everyone rethinking what 2014 could bring.
OVERSEAS FIRM TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Rakuten Inc., a Japanese Internet service firm founded in 1997, provides a B2B2C marketplace platform that is shop-centric, compared with competitors that are product focused. Three years ago, the firm decided to grow beyond its domestic borders and in 2010 acquired the Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Buy.com for $250 million through Rakuten USA. Mark Kirschner, vice chief marketing officer, said, “Because Rakuten’s e-commerce operation is a business marketplace platform, we act as a facilitator and, unique among our competitors, allow the individual businesses to customize their own storefronts on our site.” Look for Vau.lt, now in beta testing, to launch early this year, the latest U.S. direct-to-consumer site under Rakuten’s umbrella. In addition, Derek Wall, Vau.lt’s chief executive officer, said Rakuten will launch a Rakuten user ID early next year that will allow each holder to access any Rakuten-operated site anywhere in the world. Rakuten in May also led a consortium that invested $100 million in Pinterest. EBay and Amazon will still be megaplayers, but Rakuten’s B2B2C platform could be where the action is this year. RELATED STORY: Stronger Growth Expected in Second Half >>
PERSON TO WATCH: Yehuda Shmidman joined Sequential Brands Group as its new chief executive officer in November. The former chief operating officer at Iconix Brand Group was involved in many mergers and acquisitions initiatives, and helped grow the small five-fashion brand firm when he joined in 2005 to a company with more than 25 brands generating more than $360 million in licensing revenues. Sequential last month acquired Heelys Inc. for $63.2 million, and Shmidman is on the prowl for more deals.
CONSUMER CREDIT AT RETAIL: Conns, a home goods and electronics retailer, offers a variety of proprietary credit options that make it easier for many subprime consumers to buy what they need. According to David Galper, managing director at KeyBanc Capital Markets who is also head of the retail and apparel investment banking group, said, “This credit expertise is a significant competitive advantage as it drives loyalty and profitability.” While some retailers such as Kmart reinstituted a related concept called the layaway plan, Conns allows working middle class consumers to actually take their purchases home while making low monthly payments on an installment plan.
BRAND MANAGEMENT WARS: In the last few years, Iconix Brand Group had the lock as leader in the brand management category. Sequential Brands Group and Authentic Brands Group are the latest entrants in the new category of acquirers with an eye on licensing. Last month, Sequential acquired the intellectual property assets of Heelys Inc., while Authentic bought the brands under the former HMX Group umbrella that includes Hart Schaffner Marx and Hickey Freeman. While all three are looking for new deals, the new entrants might have the advantage — as upstarts, they don’t need big deals to move the needle.
AMERICAN FASHION IN VOGUE: Is 2013 the year for the American designer in fashion? Financial and creative sources say yes, as the American aesthetic features wearable and versatile apparel that can go from day to night at affordable price points. Think Rag & Bone and Sophie Theallet. And while overseas aspirational consumers used to first hit the high-end European luxury brands, accessibility to information online via e-commerce sites has broadened their horizons at a far faster pace than ever before. In particular, Asian consumers who want to express their own unique identities no longer want to wear what their next-door neighbors are wearing. So it may be the American designers who win market share in 2013.
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)